The Los Angeles Chargers were a top scoring offense for fantasy football last season. Their 6,026 yards were fourth best in the league. The offense included the eighth-ranked fantasy quarterback in Philip Rivers. Melvin Gordon finished as the fifth-ranked running back. Hunter Henry was the 14th best tight end. Keenan Allen finished as the third-best wide receiver in all of fantasy football.
Heading into 2018, the Chargers have added some defensive pieces and look poised to make a run at the post-season.
Was Keenan Allen’s WR3 finish a fluke, or is this the player he’s been all along, when healthy? Let’s take a look at his numbers and projections and see if we can glean what the future holds for Mr. Allen and the Chargers.
Fantasy Football Player Profile: Keenan Allen
For the first time in his five-year career, Keenan Allen played a 16-game season. In that full season, he finished with 1,393 yards and six receiving touchdowns on 159 targets. He finished fifth in targets, fourth in receptions, and third in receiving yards. For anyone who watched some of his film, he made it look easy.
Entering the 2017 fantasy season, Allen was drafted as a back-end WR1, as the 12th receiver off the board according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com. He returned value on that pick and finished as the overall WR3 for fantasy purposes behind only Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins.
Heading into the 2018 season, Allen’s draft position has come up from last season but hasn’t landed in the top-five. The biggest worry for fantasy owners is his health. Allen has earned the “injury-prone” tag due to his past. It’s an understandable tag, considering his career.
In 2014 he suffered a sprained ankle and a broken collarbone, causing a couple of missed games to end the season. In 2015, also towards the end of the season, he suffered a lacerated kidney causing him to miss the remainder of the season. To begin the 2016 season, he suffered a torn ACL and missed the rest of the season.
Yes, Allen has an injury history that has caused him to only play one complete season. However, a torn ACL is not an uncommon injury in the NFL, and due to the wonders of modern medical science, it no longer appears to hamper players performances once healthy. A lacerated kidney is one of those injuries that seem to be more a freak occurrence than anything else. The broken collarbone is another relatively normal injury that occurs to players who take hard hits.
Outside of the lacerated kidney, all of these injuries are fairly common among his peers and lack the nagging quality that many truly injury-prone players seem to have. For example, Danny Amendola only has two complete seasons in his 10-year career. Alshon Jeffery has been hampered by soft-tissue, lower-body injuries in his five-year career. Kevin White could be the most talented wide receiver to play the game and we’d never know it. In four seasons he’s played a total of five games. These are a few of the players which seem to have a higher risk of injury than Allen.
When healthy, Allen has the skill set to be among the top receivers in the game. With the 2018 season right around the corner, let’s take a look at some team dynamics and projections.
Hunter Henry tore his ACL and will be out for the season. While there are rumors of Antonio Gates returning, nothing has been made official. Both tight ends accounted for 114 targets and seven touchdowns to get spread around. Even if Gates returns, his main role will probably be as a red zone target and will have little effect on Allen’s overall target share.
In comparing target distribution, Allen reigned supreme for the Chargers last season. He finished with 159 targets. The second-most targets belonged to running back Melvin Gordon who finished with 83. Tyrell Williams was the third most in targets with 69 for the season. Allen finished commanding over 27 percent of the team’s total targets. This season, with Henry out of the equation, second-year receiver Mike Williams has a chance to show up and be a factor.
When he’s on the field, Allen remains Rivers favorite target in a variety of situations. Look for him to continue that trend in 2018 and again lead his team in targets and receptions, and with a few more red zone looks as well.
At the time of this writing, Allen is going at the 2.04 pick. That places him as the sixth wide receiver off the board in PPR formats. This seems like a great price to draft him with the serious upside of him finishing inside the top-five fantasy receivers again.